Christmas Flowers at Fairburn

Today was the day….the ladies of the flower team rolled up their  and did Christmas.  It’s the carol service tomorrow and the church will be be beautifully decked out.  A mountain of greenery had been clipped from gardens, hedgerows and in my case a pub (with permission of course) and the lovely holly in the churchyard gave us load of berries to play with.    The only things we bought were the red carnations, some eucalyptus and a bunch of anastasia.  Not bad to fill a church.

Enid set about the window by the door.  She’d decided on a parallel arrangement before we started having won some gorgeous white amarylis at the flower club on Monday – very handy….and a very beautiful result.  Even my son approved and believe me it isn’t easy to get the seal of

approval from him.  In fact it isn’t easy to even get him to look.

Annette and Barbara’s windows were lovely too and with their allocation from the carnations they’d added their own little bits of gold and sparkle  so that tomorrow evening when all the candles are lit for the carol service the whole church will twinkle in the glow.

And we have a new addition to the team – another Margaret.  Which makes life really complicated.   I’m a Margaret, we already had a Margaret and now we have a new Margaret…. in a room where there are only 7 women and 3 of them answer to Margaret I can tell you it gets tricky.

Here’s our latest Margaret’s window:

Our 1st Margaret did the altar today but she came along after we’d been there this morning – so pictures tomorrow, and with the candles lit.  Should look wonderful.

I had the top of a disused fireplace above a window but way up – apparently I’m young (well that makes a change!) so able to scale the heights.   It’s a fairly traditional arrangement and I used lots of sprakly glitter spray which hopefully will show up tomorrow night.

Here’s where we are at Fairburn near Castleford in West Yorkshire : http://www.achurchnearyou.com/fairburn/.  If you know how to find the RSPB reserve at Fairburng Ings we are just up the road, and we’d love to see you – our churchwarden has been working like mad and the statues are ready to go into the nativity scene.   The candles are ready to light and mince pies are being made in a dozen kitchens round about to go with the mulled wine.  We start at 7.30 tomorrow evening (Thursday 15th December) and I know from only having been at this church for a little over a year that you’ll get a warm welcome.

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If it’s Friday……

it must be – um…..?  The festive fair season is in full swing just now and honestly I hardly know where I am.   I love them when I get there and everything’s in place.  Usually there are lots of Christmassy things going on – Santa, Carols and brass bands – and everyone gets into the christmas spirit.  It’s just the getting there that’s a bit of an issue.   I’m on the merry go round and so maybe it’s a senior moment thing, but unless I keep referring to my diary I have no idea where I’m supposed to be or what time I’m supposed to be there!  If I’ve tweeted about where I’m going would you mind giving me a quick dig in the ribs to remind me nearer to the date!

Last weekend was St Gemma’s Hospice Christmas market and that’s one of the highlights for me.   They work so hard and the hospice gets great support for its work, and this year a rock choir sang on Saturday and my pal Lucy played in the brass band on Friday.

I’m going somewhere new on Thursday this week which presents its own problems!  On my way to one fair last week my sat nav decided to take me on a tour of a housing estate until it brought me to a halt at a row of bollards which it clearly hadn’t bargained for.   Oh how I regretted not having a road map in the car any more.

There’s nothing worse than arriving late.  I end up dashing in and out like a mad thing as the visitors start to arrive.   Then of course they might like to buy something, but I’m bound to have forgotten how much the hyacinths are or where I’ve hidden the cash box.

Last weekend I sent the cashbox flying – not the best when you’re chasing 20ps across the floor as a confused customer is waiting for her change.

So this week it’s South Leeds Hub on Thursday afternoon/evening, and one of my favourites on Friday – Leeds Univeristy Union Christmas Day.  It’s not just for the students everyone’s welcome.  The money we all pay for our space goes to the Salvation Army and the army are there playing …lovely.  And Santa’s coming.  I need to ask him for a road atlas I think.

To see where I’m going to be next see my events page https://readyplanted.wordpress.com/eventsdates/

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Cakes and candles

Yesterday was stir up Monday here.  OK I know it should have been stir up Sunday but there was not a spare moment on Sunday.  The house smelled fab and it felt as though the countdown to Christmas had officially begun.   I’ve used Margaret Costa’s recipe for Christmas cake for more years than I care to remember and it gets compliments every time. Its from her Four Season’s Cookery Book which was dropping to bits till I was bought a replacement.   Thank goodness someone decided to do a reprint.  This is the recipe for the 9″ cake http://www.foodari.com/Recipes/Sarah%20Scott/Christmas-Cake but if you get hold of the book there are quantities for all sizes from 7″ to 12″.

Here it is on its way out of the oven….tempting but no, it’s wrapped in foil and in a cake tin now. 

It’s so good that last night when I told a friend what I’d been up to she looked appealingly and so yes, I’ll be making another one!  It’s a rich traditional cake with more fruit than mixture.  And here it gets well fed with brandy at least once a week till the week before Christmas when it gets a tick coating of maripan and a topping of royal icing.  Very traditional but I love Christmas cake…especially with a chunk of Wensleydale cheese in good Yorkshire tradition.

The cakey smell isn’t the only thing that’s making me feel Christmassy.   The Christmas craft fair season is in full swing and I’m taking my goodies here there and everywhere at the moment.  Goole last week, Barnsley this morning and Apperley Bridge on Saturday.  I really know how to live the high life!  Take a look at the events page to see where I’ll be next.

And fairs mean glitter and gold paint.   So much of it I had to explain why I had gold fingers the other day – couldn’t get the stuff off – but have now bought more terps.

Come along to one and say hello if you have a minute – I love to see a friendly face……

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Christmas is coming….

I’m planning to take a space at Fabrication Shop, Kirkgate, Leeds City Centre in the run up to Christmas where I’ll have wreaths, planters and gifts.  Since it’s a new venture I’m after your help.  If you’ve got a minute tell me what kind of thing you buy at Christmas that’d be great, and feel free to add any other comments!

 

Hope to see you in the shop!

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Sabotaged photos

I thought I’d take a pic or two of the winter planters I’d done….but then Gloria thought she’d take a swipe at the berries on the gaultheria…..see swiftly moving hen aiming for red berries.

OK so I shooed her off and tried again.  No hens to be seen, great, point the camera at the planter and ……peck!   Straight at the phone..Gloria and her friend this time.   “Is it edible, no, well let’s have another peck anyhow”……..so I gave up till they were in bed…but of course then it was dark.  You can’t win sometimes.

Hopefully you can see what we have here though.   A full sized old fashioned zinc pail filled with a 2ft conifer, gaultheria which has lovely red berries flowing over the front, with trailing ivy and pansies or violas  All should do beautifully well on your doorstep all winter.

Put a string of battery operated lights round the little tree and you’ll have a lovely Christmassy welcome on your doorstep later in the winter as well.

And if you want to you can plant everything in the garden when it gets too big for the bucket.  Don’t panic though the thuja (confier) is slow growing so you’re not looking at a hugenormous monster like leylandii!

So here it is in the dark.  Difficult to see I know but I hope you get the idea!

The buckets cost £30 delivered to Leeds postcodes and the Pontefract/Castleford areas.  Please get in touch via the contact form on the site if you’d like one.

I deliver little planters as well but it’s way too dark to take any pictures now.  Will have a go tomorrow.

You’ve seen the autumn wreath before but I’ve had requests to deliver them as well.   Here it is again if you fancy one too:

The base is a wicker frame decorated with seed heads and berries from the garden and the hedgerow.  The frame itself will last for several years so you can decorate it again every season if you want to, and the berries and greenery will last outside for many weeks….the colder it gets the longer they’ll last!  There are some advantages to the cold weather.

Delivered to the same areas as the planter the wreath will cost £28.00.

I have no idea when I’ll be able to take orders on line (I’m sorry)…. technology and I fight daily.  So if you’d like either the planter or the wreath drop me a note – just click on contact in the menu bar and drop me a line.

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Relaxed country look wedding

Generally when I take a brief for a wedding the bride and maybe her mother or chief bridesmaid and I will go over pictures, flower varieties and the colour scheme for the day.  Sometimes they take away magazines or books for inspiration and we visit the venue, and then we get a list together.   Once I know what’s wanted and everything’s confirmed I file away all the details until much much nearer to the wedding.

A couple of weeks before the event   I always get out the list of flowers and send it off to the bride for her to double check.  In the months in between there might be another buttonhole or two, or maybe gift bouquets to add, but that’ll be about it, and then off we go.

This time when I looked at the order I was looking forward to putting together the soft colours to create the bouquet.  The bride was quite clear that she didn’t want anything that was too contrived.  

I really enjoyed choosing flowers that would create the feel and go together well and once I’d chosen the right flowers the handtied bouquet almost put itself together.   The  bridesmaids’ posies incorporated the same flower choices and toned beautifully with the teal dresses.

Inside the venue the fireplaces lent themselves to decoration.   Across the top of the mantlepiece an arrangement was fixed which tied in to the one in the fireplace itself  and on the tables informal vases were put together and the table numbers sat in the vases as well.  Neat little blackboards on sticks which the bride had found and which I loved.   Must ask her where she got them from…..

The couple really did love their flowers – and I loved putting them together.  So guys, many congratulations, and thanks for asking me to put them together….I enjoyed it enormously.

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Time to put the garden to bed

Odd expression that, but I think we get the idea.  Things are looking a bit ropey out there when I stand at the French windows, and they’re going to look much worse unless I sort things out.  It seems harder in the autumn though, it’s much less like fun dismantling the summer garden than getting it up to scratch in the spring, but in fact there’s so much to do and I know it’ll make a difference.

I always know it’s time when I have to clear the tomatoes out of the greenhouse.   There’s still one plant left which has some fruit which might just ripen but the rest are on the compost heap.

Once I’ve done that it’s the ideal opportunity to give the greenhouse a clean inside.  Brush down all the glass and then wash it with a mild disinfectant and clean the staging and shelving.   Try to choose a dry mild day so that any tender plants will be OK outside until everything’s dried out.

Then I can look at what I need to bring into the greenhouse to save for next year.   There are always loads of pelargoniums.   I love them and try to save as many as I can.  They’ll be happy in a dryish compost kept somewhere frost free.  I generally take off the flowers and prune them back to about 4” or so…I could have taken cuttings a little bit earlier but I didn’t…so I’ll try to hang onto the plants.  If it gets really cold in the greenhouse either it’ll need heating or they’ll have to come into the house.

There are plenty of other things I might like to keep.  This year I don’t have any very nice dahlias.  I lost some lovely ones by leaving them in the ground last year.   In a mild winter they’ll be fine outside but we’ve had some very cold ones so it’s safer to lift the tubers, dust off the soil and store them in dry compost till the spring when you can bring them back into growth again.

I will take cuttings of my salvia ‘hot lips’.  I love it and I have taken cuttings before to ensure I keep it year after year.   I’ve lost the parent plant more than once so I know I need to get some cuttings.  I’ll push them into a mixture of compost and sharp sand and cover them in a polythene bag and they’ll be in the greenhouse frost free till the spring.

As for the mixed  border, I tend to stand back and take a view.  There are things that need to be cut back and look a messy tangle of dead leaves, and they’d be better on the compost heap, but there are lots of other things looking great – the sedum and the grasses shine in the sun, lots of the cosmos  and the marigolds are still flowering like mad, as is the nasturtium that’s climbing over the fence.  So they can stay.  On the other hand the cerinthe is black, some of the early perennials like the campanula and yellow loostrife look sad and need cutting back.  But other perennials, which are over for the summer will stay to give some structure for the winter and for the bugs to feed from.  Things like the echinacea  and the eringyum.  So don’t be too ready to clear everything away too soon.

I almost always plant bulbs.  All kinds of bulbs…..it’s no too late for daffodils and you can plant tulips until December, and as well as them you can put in crocus, alliums, grape hyacinths…there really is such a choice, you only have to go into the garden centre or pick up a catalogue and the choice is vast.  They’re great though because you need to do so little, just dig a hole and drop them in and you’ll have a lovely display next spring.

Finally if I have home made compost that’s ready I like to mulch at this time of year.   Good well-rotted compost is the best and if you can put it down 3-4 inches deep so much the better.   That’s the bit that does feel as though I’m tucking up the flower beds for winter.   Let’s hope they sleep well and come back better than ever next year.

Next job – maybe in November – some autumn pruning!

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